Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Computer Beats Humans in 'Doom' Video Game

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Computer Beats Humans in 'Doom' Video Game

Article excerpt

"Doom," the popular 1993 shoot-em-up video game, looks outdated these days compared with sophisticated modern games.

But now it is serving a new purpose as an artificial-intelligence research platform, as two Carnegie Mellon University students so successfully showed in the recent Visual Doom AI Competition known as VizDoom.

The CMU program finished second in each of two competitions against Intel and Facebook, respectively. Neither Intel nor Facebook participated in both competitions, with 12 teams competing.

Guillaume Lample, recent recipient of a master's degree at CMU, and Devendra Singh Chaplot, currently seeking a master's degree in computer science, spent four months, including most of the summer, working to create their autonomous artificial-intelligence agent (AI agent) to play first-person shooter games.

Their study describing the program - available at Cornell University's "arXiv," an archive of scientific studies - says its "architecture substantially outperforms built-in AI agents of the game as well as humans in death-match scenarios."

"If you look at who won those competitions - Facebook and Intel - each has enormous computing resources, so I think it's impressive what they'd done over the summer by themselves," said Ruslan Salakhutdinov, an associate professor in the machine learning department of CMU's School of Computer Science. He serves as Mr. Chaplot's adviser.

Google's groundbreaking DeepMind program already has beaten humans in 2D 2600 Atari video games, with other programs showing success against skilled human players in such board games as "Go." Conquering "Doom," however, required a new level of ability.

"Doom" involves a first-person shooter going room to room through a 3-D underworld to gun down attackers while avoiding return fire. While some may cringe at a score reflecting the number of human figures killed in virtual reality, the CMU algorithm more importantly represents a step forward in technology that eventually could allow robots and self-driving vehicles to better navigate real-world environments and perform more complex tasks. …

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